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With scaling issues out of the way, Blogger focuses on features, starting with powerful design tool

March 11, 2010 | 10:00 am

 

Blogger-design-template Users of Blogger can give their pages major makeovers starting Thursday morning thanks to a new tool called Template Designer.

After a few quiet years, Google's pioneering blog platform plans to add features with "momentum," said Blogger product manager Siobhan Quinn on the phone Wednesday.

The new design tool lets individual publishers choose from among hundreds of background images, tweak color schemes, drag and drop elements, resize the width of columns and easily manipulate practically everything on the page. Bloggers can access the beta product through Blogger Draft, and it will roll out to everyone within weeks.

Template Designer surpasses the limited options offered by most popular alternatives. WordPress has a smattering of attractive designs ripe for the picking, but they're difficult to tweak. Like a design but wish it had two columns instead of three? Tough.

This addition rivals the simple yet powerful layout tools from paid services like Squarespace and Moonfruit.

"We want you to be able to control everything," Quinn said. "The templates that have been offered have been very rigid.... They would soon become recognizable because of the huge number of people who are using Blogger."

Google doesn't say how huge that number is, but the network has more than 300 million readers, according to a company spokesman.

We snickered last month when, after Blogger remained mostly unchanged for months, the company added the ability to create pages. Sweet. WordPress has had that for years, and even relative newcomer Tumblr can do it. Then, a month later, Blogger comes back with a significant improvement to the design engine.

"You'll see our momentum is only going to grow from here," Quinn said.

Blogger spent much of last year "jumping on the whole social bandwagon," as Quinn called it. It added half-baked follower features and integration with Google Friend Connect, the redheaded stepchild of Facebook Connect.

Before that, Blogger was struggling with growth -- spam and infrastructure issues -- as well as adding tie-ins with Google AdWords' publisher monetization. Arguably essential but not the most glamorous features.

The Blogger team has since grown significantly -- now more than 25 -- and plans to "conquer a lot," Quinn said. "Blogger is really important to Google because Blogger feeds the content that Google can index."

Some improvements to Template Designer are already in the pipeline, including letting users upload their own background pictures. In addition, Blogger is working on overhauling its dated commenting system.

-- Mark Milian
twitter.com/markmilian

Image credit: Google

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